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Bail increases for Hayden couple accused of heinous abuse

Nicholas Branson is charged with injury to a child and with forcible sexual penetration by foreign object. Hailey Harris is charged with felony injury to a child.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A judge ordered that a couple accused of grievously injuring an infant be held on higher bail, as reported by our news partner, the Coeur d'Alene Press

Nicholas T. Branson, 26, of Hayden, is charged with injury to a child and with forcible sexual penetration by foreign object, both felonies.

Hailey N. Harris, 26, of Hayden, is charged with felony injury to a child, who was 7 weeks old.

Police arrested the pair last month. They remained in jail on $20,000 bail each.

Granting a motion filed by prosecutors, First District Judge James Combo ordered Friday that Harris be held on $100,000 bail and that Branson’s bail increase to $250,000.

The purpose of bail is to ensure defendants appear in court.

In Idaho, defendants charged with a crime that is not punishable by death must be admitted to bail or released on their own recognizance.

Deputies with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office responded to Kootenai Health in December after receiving a report of a 7-week-old infant with “traumatic” injuries.

A doctor who examined the child described brain injuries “very specific to abuse” and “not seen in accidental head injury.”

The child reportedly sustained at least 14 fractures, including multiple fractures to both legs.

These types of injuries are most commonly caused by “forceful grabbing and twisting,” according to court documents.

Numerous rib fractures consistent with blunt force trauma or squeezing appeared to have occurred at different times.

Tests reportedly indicated liver damage, likely caused by trauma to the abdomen.

The child also sustained bruises “patterned after a fist or fingers,” police said. Mouth injuries appeared to be caused by someone forcing a bottle into the child’s mouth.

Medical staff also discovered trauma to the child’s genitals.

The child reportedly remained hospitalized while KCSO conducted a monthlong investigation.

Police said the investigation indicates Branson and Harris caused the child’s injuries.

Evidence collected by police includes a bloody diaper and numerous text messages between Harris and Branson, according to court documents.

In early December, Harris reportedly sent Branson a string of messages about the infant: “She won’t stop ducking (sic) crying,” “I’m going to freak out,” “I cannot handle it anymore.”

When interviewed by police, Harris allegedly admitted to causing some of the injuries to the child’s limbs, torso and mouth.

Branson reportedly told police he injured and sexually abused the child.

Police sought warrants for the arrest of both Harris and Branson.

Felony injury to a child is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars, while forcible sexual penetration carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.

The Press has received no information on the child’s condition or where the child is being treated.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here


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